Saturday, 5 December 2009

Dyslexia? I am not so sure......

One of the issues raised by the community paediatrician was the possibility of Dyslexia. J at almost 7 cannot read beyond simple words...longer words tend to be mixed up and sounded backwards hence the suspicion of dyslexia. However, some of the signs suggested by the Dyslexia Institue do not apply to J. He knows the days of the week although he needs to check what comes before and after each day sometimes, he knows his numbers even if he is behind the rest of his peers with numeracy. He is also ace at following instructions for Lego cars, figures and rockets... something I think many dyslexic children would find difficult. This morning J has constructed a Lego Bionicle Robot from scratch using all the instructions and his "bendy fingers", which have been used as an excuse in the past week to NOT even try to do other tasks. He succeeded without any input from me and was rather pleased with himself when he had finished. Well done J - your Mum is proud of you.
Now I just need J to apply himself with equal enthusiasm to writing and other tasks which require he uses his "bendy fingers". He has been informed that the excuse "I can't do it because my fingers are extra bendy" will not wash with either Mum or any of his teachers. "Bendy fingers" are a problem but don't excuse him from trying.... and as this photo shows, his "bendy fingers" can work quite well.


hayesatlbch said...

The list of symptoms that many sites have to indicate the possibility of dyslexia can be misleading if it is assumed that each dyslexic child has all of those symptoms. In fact, even the most dyslexic children rarely have all of the symptoms .

Even though there seems to be a reluctance to identify dyslexia as a syndrome, syndrome is a much better description of dyslexia. A syndrome is a condition useful to diagnose many things and has two main parts. The first part is what they consider essential characteristics and these essential characteristics are indeed common to everyone with a syndrome. For dyslexia the essential characteristic is difficulties with reading. The second part of a syndrome are called minor characteristics. Minor characteristics of a person with the syndrome may or may not be present in the individual.

I'm sure you've seen these types of lists before for other conditions and usually there is a statement that anyone who has a certain number of these minor characteristics is going to be defined as having the condition.

Alcoholism, as an example, often has a list associated with it for identification, but every alcoholic won't have every symptom on the list.

Dyslexia is viewed by many as a uniform condition with a single cause. Many also neglect to mention the fact that dyslexia can vary from having very mild to very severe symptoms and is very individualistic in what particular problems are expressed by the individual.

My niche is visual dyslexia which only affects about 10% of dyslexic. One of the things across my mind as I read your post was the difference between your son reading, I assume books, and the instructions with the toy. A couple possibilities crossed my mind the first of being that the instructions with the toy may have had sufficient pictures that reading the instructions wasn't really necessary. The second thought I had was that perhaps the toy's instructions were written in much larger text and that the larger text made reading easier for your son. If that is the case that could be an indication of visual dyslexia.

Adult visual dyslexics and usually describe their visual problems that make reading difficult. I market my product, See Right Dyslexia Glasses, to those who can describe visual problems that make reading difficult because dyslexics without visual problems have nothing to gain by a product that removes visual problems.

Dyslexics and visual dyslexics usually have fluency problems when reading out loud. Visual dyslexics will often increase their fluency at very large text size. Because dyslexia usually involves auditory, phonological or language processing problems increasing the text size has no reason to increase their fluency.

Back to your son, some listed problems of dyslexia such as poor short-term memory and sequencing problems are fairly common but not universal and dyslexics. A sharp observer familiar with dyslexia will often be able to pick up clues of dyslexia by talking and listening to your son. Confusing different words and difficulty telling an age-appropriate story are fairly common dyslexia problems that show up in speech.

My website with information about visual dyslexia is I also have a page where I've collected links to free dyslexia help. One of the links is to a program designed by teachers for teachers to teach reading to children at risk of dyslexia from kindergarten through third grade. It is a long step-by-step process for a child with dyslexia but on the other hand if your child is not dyslexic you should find that he can breeze right through it . If he is dyslexic you will probably find that he stumbles at some point that will indicate this particular problem.

The page address to the free dyslexia help links is .

Pagangracecat said...

Wow! Thank you for your detailed reply - yes you are right abouy]t the Lego instructions - they were entirely in pictures.
The OT has recently done some visual processing testing with my son and although this is still to be scored he felt J had done very well. Thank you for the link - have had some good and interesting links from people who have read the blog and I really appreciate them.

Rachel said...

As the first commenter pointed out, lists of dyslexia symptoms can confuse the issue because the can seem to imply that dyslexia is uniform, i.e. that it always manifests in the same ways and that it always has the same root causes - and in fact that just doesn't seem to be the case. There is an article about it here -